The No. 2 (Steelers) and No. 3 (Broncos) recommended locks from last week did not work out, but it was another crazy week—maybe the craziest yet—of the 2018 NFL season. Week 15 recommended survivor picks include the 4-9 Falcons in what looks like a tough week to find a lock to feel good about.
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1. Atlanta Falcons (vs. Arizona)
Aside from the Redskins (because they lost their starting and backup quarterbacks), there probably hasn’t been a team in the league hit harder by injuries than the Falcons. But despite the injuries, Atlanta still has plenty of great players on the roster, and they should be able to end their five-game losing streak this Sunday at home against the Cardinals. Don’t be afraid to roll with the Falcons in their last home game of the year.
2. Houston Texans (@ Jets)
Saturday games usually aren’t quite as weird as Thursday games, so that shouldn’t stop you from feeling good about picking the Texans as a lock over the Jets for Week 15. Houston is coming off its first loss since Week 3, so they’re looking to get back on the winning track with a first-round bye in the AFC still in play. J.J. Watt and company should be able to make things difficult for rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.
3. Baltimore Ravens (vs. Tampa Bay)
While the first two picks are locks against rookie quarterbacks, the Ravens are a lock with a rookie under-center—which could understandably cause some hesitation. But Lamar Jackson has done a decent job of avoiding mistakes in a conservative offense, and Baltimore’s defense should be able to force a turnover or two off Jameis Winston. There’s a chance Winston just comes out firing and lights it up, but the Ravens should get a W at home.
4. Seattle Seahawks (@ San Francisco)
If this game was in Seattle, the Seahawks would probably be the lock of the week. They’re still a strong lock as a defense that is extremely confident after shutting down the Vikings last Monday night. Perhaps this means things must turn at some point, but the Seahawks haven’t lost to the Niners since 2013.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. Washington)
It’s understandable if you do not want to pick the disappointing Jaguars as a lock, and a lot of you might have been burned by them in a survivor pool this season. Jacksonville is 3-3 at home (excluding the “home game” in London), including a shutout against the Colts a couple weeks ago. They aren’t a higher lock because they simply haven’t been a consistently good team this year.
6. Minnesota Vikings (vs. Miami)
The wheels could fall off even more after the firing of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo if the players for whatever reason believe the issues were bigger than him. The Vikings get to return home, though, and the Dolphins could be set for a letdown after the energy-draining victory against the Patriots last Sunday. The talent and coaching of Minnesota make them a solid survivor pool pick with three weeks remaining.
7. Chicago Bears (vs. Green Bay)
The Packers still have a chance at the playoffs and should be on their game, but the Bears have homefield and are going to have an extra edge after Aaron Rodgers’ comments about not having much trouble winning at Soldier Field. Akiem Hicks didn’t like it, and the defense should be ready to do its part, making Chicago a fun lock—and a decent one—for Week 15.
8. New England Patriots (@ Pittsburgh)
The Rams, Saints, and Titans were all in consideration for this final spot, but the Titans you might want to save until next week (against the Redskins) if you haven’t used them yet, while the Rams face a ready-to-take-chances Nick Foles and the Saints go on the road for a divisional matchup. Meanwhile, the Patriots are coming off a loss and have been dominant versus the Steelers in Tom Brady’s career. The only reason New England isn’t higher is because Pittsburgh is also due for a win after three straight losses.